Sesame Street" endeavored to, according to the truthsayers at the Wikipedia, "master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them." Interesting to note that even nearly fifty years ago, people recognized that television would by and large be a vapid, soul-sucking cauldron of nothingness. The characters of Sesame Street, human adults and children as well as the Muppets, would go on to teach countless children the basics of elementary education (e.g. literacy, mathematics, communication). Literally countless numbers of children learned to say their ABC's from Kermit the Frog. Many of us can remember counting with The Count. The lasting legacy and impact of "Sesame Street" cannot be discounted and millions of children continue to learn today from this program, despite the efforts of the Mittites and their ilk.
Why the "Sesame Street" nostalgia, you ask? Earlier today, the good people at one of my favorite magazines, Mental Floss, posted a link to a 40 year old scene from the show, featuring Kermit and a young girl doing the ABC's. How it plays out is clearly unexpected for everyone's favorite green frog.
Take a look:
As I watched this, a wave of nostalgia swept over me and I couldn't help but be thankful for those days that I can recall counting with the Count and working out letters with the denizens of Sesame Street. I looked over at my nightstand and saw the pile of books that I have read or am reading and I was so grateful that I can read. While I don't owe that ability to Sesame Street, it played a part in my comprehension and to the good people at the Children's Television Workshop, I say thank you.
I suppose what I'm reading now and what I've most recently read may freak the aforementioned CTW people out a bit. Here's a few of the titles:
Nagasaki Life After Nuclear War - Susan Southard - I'm currently reading this unflinching look at the affects of the plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War II. It is told through the eyes of several survivors. It's every bit as horrible as you can imagine and even more powerful.
Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County - Kristen Green - In the early 1960's, there a handful of backward countries (countries!) and one county in Virginia where free public school education was not available. I just finished reading this personal history of the lasting impact of segregation.
The Billion Dollar Spy - David Hoffman - Fascinating and gripping account of a Russian engineer who spied for the US at his own volition. Why can't we teach this stuff in our high schools?
Like I said, it's an eclectic list. It may not be what the creators of "Sesame Street" envisioned but I don't honestly believe they wanted their young learners to solely recite the ABC's and read Dr. Seuss for the rest of their lives. They wanted us to know that each time you opened a book and began to read it, you opened a whole new world.
My world is better for it. Thank you, Sesame Street.